Hungary’s Orban says Ukraine can’t win against Russia, calls for negotiated peace

Right-wing prime minister tells economic conference in Qatar that Russian invasion was result of ‘failed diplomacy’ and that Europe needs a new security accord with Moscow

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the parliament in Budapest, Hungary, on March 27, 2023. (Denes Erdos/AP)
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the parliament in Budapest, Hungary, on March 27, 2023. (Denes Erdos/AP)

DOHA, Qatar — Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban insisted Tuesday that Ukraine cannot win its war with Russia and argued Washington must step in to end the conflict.

Orban, who is at odds with other European Union members over the war and has blocked EU aid for Ukraine, reaffirmed calls for a ceasefire.

Speaking at a conference in Qatar, he also argued that the United States and its partners in Europe must seal a new security accord with Russia.

The veteran Hungarian leader, who has not condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the Qatar Economic Forum that Russia’s invasion was the result of a “failure of diplomacy.”

“It’s obvious that the battlefield solution does not work,” he added, insisting that Ukraine could not win.

“Looking at the reality, looking at the figures, looking at the surroundings, looking at the fact that NATO is not ready to send troops, it’s obvious that there is no victory for poor Ukrainians on the battlefield,” he said. “That’s my position.”

Following a Russian attack, first responders remove rubble at a residential building in Uman, central Ukraine, April 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Orban added that “our heart is with the Ukrainians” and said “we understand how much they suffer.”

“Escalation should be stopped and we should argue in favor of peace and negotiations,” he told the forum.

Orban said that after a ceasefire there has to be a new European security accord with Russia.

“As a state Ukraine is of course very important but in the longer term, strategically thinking, what is at stake is the future security of Europe,” he said.

People look at an apartment building damaged by a drone during a Russian overnight strike, in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko)

“It is obvious that without the United States there is no security architecture for Europe. And this war cannot be stopped… unless the Russians can make an agreement with the United States.

“As a European, I am not happy with that, but it is the only way out.”

Orban also attacked the EU leadership for being too “intellectual” but said his country could not leave the bloc as 85 percent of its exports go to other member states.

He said that half of Hungary’s energy needs are met by Russia, but that Budapest is negotiating with Qatar to import natural gas, hoping deliveries could start in 2026.

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